Building a Culture of Generosity – Part 1

Do these thoughts describe your ministry?

  • “We do events to raise money and awareness but don’t seem to have many big donors.”
  • “Our organization is small, and people are not accustomed to giving much outside of normal fees for services.”

How can you encourage a culture of generosity among those who know, volunteer, or benefit from what you do in your community?

Understand Giving Motivations
What motivates your donors to give to your ministry? For many, there is a spiritual component rooted in one or more of the following scriptural principles:

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives” (Proverbs 11:30).

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 16:19-20).

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40).

You must answer four key donor questions to start a culture of generosity:

  1. What is your funding model?

Yes, you are doing good work in your community, lifesaving, life-changing work. Do your donors realize that sustaining your work requires money? What does a dollar do to advance your ministry’s mission? Present an overview of your budget and how much you need to deliver what you provide to those you serve. Use graphs and charts to communicate your annual revenue vs. expenses. Help your donors understand your complete financial picture.

  1. What needs you are trying to solve?

Express what you do in meaningful and tangible numbers such as “X dollars…

  • “…educates a child (for a day, month, year)”
  • “…nourishes a homeless person today”
  • “…covers an ultrasound test or counseling session for a pregnant mom”
  • “…provides a scholarship for Y days/months/years.”


  1. Are you regularly communicating what you accomplish with the people and resources God provides?

Have you shared a compelling vision for serving more people? How will your donors know that advancing beyond the status quo requires more money? Donors won’t give to something they don’t understand. Clearly communicate your vision through appeals, newsletters, events, annual report, and social media posts. Show them how they can change lives by partnering with you. If don’t have one or more of these communication tools working for you, consider adding them to your communication strategy. Before you know it, momentum in your communications and growth in your number of donors will provide more opportunities and enthusiasm for others to get involved.

  1. What is the return on investment and the spiritual return on investment?

Tell your story in different ways and tell it often. Share data to prove your solutions are working. Fundraising involves telling stories about your impact. Paint a picture of a life changed and do it often through reporting back results to those who care about your ministry – in newsletters, appeals, social media, etc.

To start a culture of giving, you need to invite your prospective donors to participate. Engage them for the first time through events. Ask them to take the next step and become a monthly partner. Show them how their gifts tangibly change the lives of those you serve. Don’t worry about where to start. The only mistake is not starting a culture of generosity for your organization, your stakeholders, and your community.

About the Author:  Jody Fausnight, CFRE has worked in the fund development field for more than 25 years serving as a director of advancement, a community/public relations director with four non-profit organizations, and as a consultant. Jody has expertise in Christian school recruiting, public relations, fund development, and major gift cultivation strategies. He has successfully raised many millions on behalf of numerous organizations and has grown ministry development programs from the ground up on more than one occasion.

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